By C. H., Editor Williams
English ancient files is the main formidable, extraordinary and accomplished number of files on English historical past ever released. An authoritative paintings of fundamental facts, each one quantity provides fabric with exemplary scholarly accuracy. Editorial remark is directed in the direction of making assets intelligible instead of drawing conclusions from them. complete account has been taken of recent textual feedback. A common creation to every quantity portrays the nature of the interval lower than evaluation and significant bibliographies were additional to help extra research. files amassed comprise treaties, own letters, statutes, army dispatches, diaries, declarations, newspaper articles, govt and cupboard lawsuits, orders, acts, sermons, pamphlets, agricultural directions, charters, gives you, guild laws and balloting files. Volumes are supplied with lavish additional gear together with genealogical tables, lists of officers, chronologies, diagrams, graphs and maps.
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2 The whole situation was aptly summed up from the standpoint of law and the heralds by Sir Thomas Smith in 1565. Looking at the subject as a lawyer and a politician, the rigorous test of social status which he applies is to ask what part did an individual play in government, and what office did he bear in the commonwealth. From this point of view Smith divides society into the following groups: first, the greater nobility (nobilitas major), a rank which includes dukes, marquises, earls, viscounts, barons: secondly, the lesser nobility (nobilitas minor), consisting of the knights, esquires, and gentlemen: thirdly, the citizens and burgesses of the towns, the yeomen; and lastly, there should be noticed a miscellaneous group, those who have no voice or authority in the commonwealth, and no account is made of them, but only to be ruled, and not to rule others.
3 If this be accepted as the prevailing structure of early sixteenth-century society, life for the individual should not be described as excessively constricted. 4 It explains the rise of the “new men” in the political life of the time. Perhaps too much has been made of this feature of the social organization. There has been a tendency to attribute to the early Tudor kings, and especially to Henry VIII, a quite original policy creating a class of “new men” whom he trained and used as administrators.
The first feature to go was the theme that Empson and Dudley, tyrannous oppressors of the king’s subjects, succeeded about 1504 in leading Henry to embark on an unscrupulous use of his powers in order to make exorbitant demands intended to humble overmighty subjects and fill the king’s coffers. These imputations against them are explained away: they were the victims of their own zeal: there was nothing illegal in this drive on the part of the king’s servants to collect all the revenue to which the king was legally entitled.